Damianista’s note: Here is a piece I recently wrote for my favorite neighborhood blog I Love The Upper West Side. Hope you enjoy this Billions tour of the Upper West Side and return for more neighborhood tours of our favorite show.
I am an immigrant. I moved to the US for graduate study in late 1990s. My husband and I, having finished our PhDs, moved to New York in 2001, only weeks before September 11, for jobs. The city has since given me so much and defined me as an individual: a foodie, a film buff, a theatre lover, a feminist, a wine snob, a runner and much more. Even though we moved to the South five years later for new jobs, we could not give up on New York. We still have an apartment on the Upper West Side and enjoy the city as part-time New Yorkers.
I am also a blogger managing a fan blog and a fan site dedicated to my favorite actor Damian Lewis. And Billions is my dream show not only because my favorite actor is in it, but also because New York, from its landmark buildings to its city parks and from its Michelin-starred restaurants to its yummy hole-in-the walls, appears as a cast member in the show! As someone who feels home only in the city that never sleeps, I particularly love it that Billions is taking over New York, the big film studio that it is, and filming all over the place, from Manhattan to Queens to Brooklyn to The Bronx to Long Island and to northern suburbs.
As a Billions and a New York enthusiast, I posted location and dining guides for every Billions season. And when E.L. Danvers reported here last week that Billions was coming to our neighborhood again, I thought it would be fun to put together a “A Billions Tour of the Upper West Side” as a loving tribute to my neighborhood.
Now, for the Billions fans among you: I list the UWS filming locations in chronological order, and to refresh your memory, I talk briefly about the scene filmed at a particular location. And if you have not watched the show yet, it is time to catch up. Billions is hands down the smartest show on TV at the moment. Besides, Brian Koppelman, a co-creator and show runner of Billions is a long time UWS resident.
Episode 6: The Deal
Henry Hudson Parkway
Once he leaves the deal with Chuck behind Axe drives his Bentley like crazy on Henry Hudson Parkway to home in Connecticut. We see that the next exit in the scene is West 79th Street Boat Basin — hey, Axe, if you take that and drive couple blocks south, I am there!
194 Riverside Drive
Chuck pays a visit to the assistant US attorney Lonnie Watley in his apartment on the UWS. According to an article in New York Times, this building appeared many times in TV shows and films over the last two decades. Peter Ferrera, the president of the co-op says: “We’re not raking in billions. But if your heating bill is $140,000, you can defray some of that.” I cannot agree more with that. And I am thinking why my co-op hasn’t not got into this business yet J
Episode 1: Tie Goes to the Runner
Wang Chen Table Tennis, 250 West 100th Street
Assistant US Attorney Bryan Connerty shows off his pingpong skills at Wang Chen’s UWS branch!
Episode 3: A Generation Too Late
Viand Café, 2130 Broadway
I suspect Ira Shirmer lives on the UWS and Viand Cafe is his neighborhood diner. Ira meets there with Bryan over coffee to talk about how to get Bobby Axelrod convicted in the Ice Juice case.
Gray’s Papaya, 2090 Broadway
Axe is ready to offer Ira his life back should Ira keep quiet about his role in the Ice Juice case. He starts the seduction in the line for “recession special” at Gray’s Papaya. All recessions come to an end and Ira’s can, too, very soon. I was very lucky to be on set while they were shooting this fun scene at Gray’s Papaya. You can go behind the scenes with me here!
Episode 4: Hell of a Ride
Morningside Castle, 100 Claremont Avenue
The Morningside Castle is a unique venue with old world charm and a popular place for weddings. It is a part of Union Theological Seminary, an independent, non-denomination, Christian seminary affiliated with neighboring Columbia University.
In Billions, the Morningside Castle stands in for Yale University where the class of 1968 is having their 50th reunion and presenting Chuck Senior a life achievement award. Chuck takes the stand to make a speech celebrating his dad’s life and accomplishments, yet his sentimental approach to steal Senior’s heart again does not work!
Episode 5: Flaw in the Death Star
Bethesda Terrace and the Fountain, Central Park
The Bethesda Fountain, the gorgeous focal point of the Bethasda Terrace, is one of the largest fountains in New York. The statue at the center, Angel of the Waters, was the only sculpture to have been commissioned as a part of Central Park’s original design. And Emma Stebbins, who designed the statue in 1868, became the first woman to receive commission for a major work of art in the city of New York.
Chuck chooses to meet Dr. Gilbert in the middle of the night at the Bethesda Terrace.
Episode 9: Icebreaker
Kefi, 222 West 79th Street (scene shot at their former location 505 Columbus Avenue)
Chuck and Wendy are having a double date with Lonnie Watley and his pianist wife Sandra at Kefi, one of our neighborhood’s gems serving home-style Greek food. The pandemic hit after they moved back to their original location at 222 West 79 Street and the restaurant is still closed. I am hoping to celebrate their reopening with a bottle of Greek wine!
Episode 1: Chucky Rhoades’ Greatest Game
Barney Greengrass, 541 Amsterdam Avenue
Chuck finds Police Commissioner Sansome having breakfast at “The Sturgeon King “of the city to ask him for a personal favor. I bet Commissioner Samsone is having this city institution’s signature dish – sturgeon scrambled eggs! Let me also note that Billions co-creator and show runner Brian Koppelman says he’s “ride or die” with Barney Greengrass.
I'm ride or die with Barney Greengrass. Been going there since my dad first took me as a 9 year old. https://t.co/307kbXOtl5
— Brian Koppelman (@briankoppelman) April 23, 2018
The owner Gary Greengrass makes a cameo in the episode asking Chuck if he wants a table and hears back that he should “save his fine sable for someone whose fortunes warrant it.”
Episode 5: A Proper Sendoff
Church of the Blessed Sacrament, 152 West 71st Street
Church of the Blessed Sacrament is a Roman Catholic Parish Church on the UWS. The construction of the church began in 1914 and the first mass was held on Christmas 1920.
In the most Shakespearian Billions scene ever, Chuck “Mark Antony” Rhoades is at Black Jack Foley’s funeral to make his own “Friends, Romans, and Countrymen” speech calling out the criminals and conspirators that have infested New York politics for decades. Hats off to Chuck – I cannot think of a more proper send off for Foley.
Read the rest of the article on I Love The Upper West Side